Dozens of Northern CA Priests Facing Child Sex Abuse Claims for the First Time – NBC Bay Area


Dozens of Northern California Catholic priests and church staff members– some still working, others retired or deceased– are being openly implicated for the very first time of sexually abusing kids in their care. The accusations recommend shocking brand-new depths to the decades-long scandal that continues to rock the church and its fans.

Those brand-new allegations– and much more– have actually emerged in a wave of suits cleaning over Catholic organizations throughout the state, consisting of every Northern California diocese from Fresno to Santa Rosa. Some of the brand-new filings declare cover-ups that safeguarded implicated predators and silenced victims.

NBC Bay Area’s examination– based upon an evaluation of almost 140 brand-new legal filings and interviews with more than a lots complainants, lawyers, and other sources– has actually up until now recognized more than 40 Northern California priests or church staff members facing child sex abuse accusations for the very first time, a number that’s nearly particular to grow by the end of the year.

The brand-new names are missing from internal lists of presumed abusers that a lot of Northern California Catholic dioceses have actually launched over the last few years– with the exception of the San Francisco Archdiocese– nor do they appear on sites devoted to tracking clergy abuse, such as Bishop Responsibility

Amongst the newly-accused clergy are 4 Bay Area priests who continue to work regardless of the current accusations versus them. The 2 dioceses that use those priests– San Francisco and Santa Rosa– stated internal evaluations have up until now not continual the accusations versus the males, so they stay in ministry. NBC Bay Area prepares to release extra information on those cases Thursday.

Dozens of other priests who have actually been formerly implicated in previous legal filings or were criminally charged– consisting of some of the most well-known recognized abusers in the area– likewise deal with brand-new accusations in the mountain of court filings.

Other discoveries consist of a string of brand-new sex abuse allegations leveled versus clergy and personnel at schools for susceptible Bay Area kids: St. Vincent’s School for Boys in Marin County and the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma. One such suit declares the sex trafficking of St. Vincent’s Kids to a remote Sonoma County summer season camp called CYO Camp in the early 1980s, where one complainant states in his grievance that he was offered alcohol and required to participate in sex acts with several priests and other young boys.


NBC Bay Area

CYO Camp as seen from the air in 2022.

” This is actually simply part of the recovery procedure, this is not about any kind of monetary gain,” stated previous Bay Area resident Mark Staley, who declared in a current suit that deceased Oakland priest Msgr. Michael McGinty physically and sexually abused him when he was 8 or 9 years of ages.

Prior to Staley’s suit, it appears there is no readily available record of previous allegations versus the priest.

Staley is one of more than 700 Californians now taking legal action against Catholic dioceses throughout the state utilizing a 2019 law that opened a three-year “lookback window” for possible victims to submit civil suits based upon older youth sex abuse claims– claims generally disallowed by the statute of constraints.

Staley, a previous altar kid, stated he quelched the distressing memory of his abuse till it just recently emerged in treatment. He now remembers being summoned to the furious priest’s workplace for laughing throughout mass.

” The next thing I keep in mind is his hands were here on my throat,” Staley stated. “I can remember losing consciousness, and when I woke, I was looking down and I might see the leading of his head.”


NBC Bay Area

Pictures of Staley and Rev. McGinty from an old-fashioned yearbook

Spencer Lucas, Staley’s lawyer, stated he’s not stunned that dozens of brand-new names are emerging amongst the list of implicated priests.

” There are a lot of priests that have actually been implicated that are not on the [church’s] list of credibly implicated priests, which’s not unexpected to me,” Lucas stated. “Consistently there’s been a pattern and practice and long history of the Catholic Church not just sweeping these allegations under the carpet however participating in corrupt cover-ups time and time once again.”

In Northern California, more than 200 complainants have actually submitted suits versus the church up until now, with hundreds more lined up to submit brand-new claims by the time the window closes on Dec. 31, according to lawyers handling the cases.

” I would anticipate that we’re visiting more than a thousand cases [in Northern California] by the end of this,” stated Rick Simons, a Bay Area lawyer who is co-managing the combined Northern California clergy abuse cases on behalf of the complainants. “The general public requirements to understand the church is not the victim. They believe they’re the victim, however it’s the kids who invested their whole life bring this scar and concern. They’re the ones that require the attention and it ought to have to do with them.”

California bishops and their lawyers have actually been pressing back versus the lookback window law, arguing it’s unconstitutional and might be economically destructive for Catholic dioceses, particularly after they paid massive settlement amounts throughout a comparable window almost twenty years earlier. After stopped working efforts in state courts to reverse the law, the bishops petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in April to evaluate the case, however the court decreased to do so.

” Evaluation is vital now, prior to the Catholic Church in the biggest State in the union is required to prosecute hundreds or thousands of cases looking for possibly billions of dollars in retroactive compensatory damages under an unconstitutional double-revival program,” lawyers representing the Church argued.

However for possible victims, Simons stated, the cases represent something more effective than monetary gain.

” The most typical factor that individuals inform me is, ‘It’s far too late to actually alter my life, however I wish to secure my kids, my grandkids. I wish to ensure there disappears kids that go through what I went through.'”

The current suits have actually currently shown to be a chest of brand-new clergy abuse info. As the cases progress in court, complainants’ lawyers anticipate to pry loose internal church files through the discovery procedure that might broaden the scandal even further and possibly clarified what church authorities brand-new about possible predatory priests and when they understood it.

Dan McNevin, a regional leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (BREEZE), has actually been tracking the brand-new cases and stated he’s seeing intriguing patterns starting to emerge.

” Lots of brand-new names are coming out,” McNevin stated. “I believe that the dam was broken in the 2003 [lookback window], however a lot of individuals at that time weren’t prepared. So, we’re seeing cases that are from the sixties and seventies and eighties, however we’re likewise starting to see cases from the nineties and from the 2000s. So, I believe individuals are lastly discovering the strength to speak their reality.”

Ninety-one private priests or church staff members are implicated of sexually abusing minors throughout the suits evaluated by NBC Bay Area, some by several complainants.

In one such case, a trio of siblings declare they were all molested by a team member at St. Vincent’s School for Boys in the 1960s.

In composed declarations, Bay Area dioceses stated they take the abuse claims seriously, explaining assistance services for possible victims described on their particular sites. Nevertheless, they primarily decreased to discuss particular cases due to the fact that of the pending suits.

” The most current allegations to which you are referring are unverified accusations which now remain in the earliest phases of lawsuits,” a representative for the San Francisco Archdiocese stated in a composed declaration. “Furthermore, the Archdiocese does not and will not discuss any possible pending lawsuits, especially when the claims are, usually, over 50 years old.”

Almost half of the implicated abusers called in the suits evaluated by NBC Bay Area seem facing public sex abuse accusations for the really very first time, such as now-deceased San Francisco priest Rev. Martin Greenlaw. He pleaded guilty to embezzling from the church in the 1990s however is now implicated of requiring an eight-year-old kid to carry out foreplay on him a years previously.


NBC Bay Area

Departed San Francisco priest Martin Greenlaw

Another such example is Oakland priest Fr. Jesus Prieto, likewise deceased, now declared to have actually sexually attacked a trainee at a Catholic primary school in Oakland around 100 times in the 1960’s. The grooming, according to the suit, started with Fr. Prieto revealing the kid Playboy publications and letting him consume red wine.

Thus lots of other possible victims, the Prieto complainant stated the abuse had a crippling result on his life.

” Complainant has actually experienced alcohol and other drug abuse throughout his life and has actually invested a considerable part of his life in jail,” the suit states. “As an adult, Complainant suffered and continues to suffer stress and anxiety, anxiety, and other signs of mental disorder.

It’s most likely the list of priests and church authorities implicated for the very first time will just get longer in the months to come, with lawyers anticipating a flurry of brand-new filings prior to the window closes in December.

It’s not simply priests, either.

A multitude of Catholic school staff members, such as instructors, coaches, and janitors likewise deal with brand-new accusations.

One unnamed complainant declares in a claim he was sexually abused as a teen around 1999 or 2000 by an instructor at a Catholic school operating under the Diocese of Fresno. The grievance declares the instructor fondled himself while requiring the complainant to participate in sexual show another trainee.

About a years previously, when the very same complainant had to do with 6 years of ages, according to the suit, he had actually been raped at school by a now-deceased priest called Dino Riccomini and required to carry out sexual show his young schoolmates.

The Diocese of Fresno decreased to discuss any pending suits.

Beyond the brand-new names, the cases likewise shed brand-new light on some of the most respected predator priests in Northern California, such as now-defrocked priest Stephen Kiesle, who is facing more than a lots brand-new abuse accusations.

Kiesle, who served 6 years in jail after pleading no contest to molesting a girl in 1995, was criminally charged once again in April for apparently striking and eliminating a pedestrian while driving intoxicated in the priest’s Walnut Creek community. Kiesle pleaded innocent in the continuous criminal case.

Another well-known defrocked East Bay priest, Robert Ponciroli, has at least 2 brand-new sex abuse accusations leveled versus him. Internal church records reveal the church knew of abuse accusations versus the priest going back to the 1970s.

” The guy raped me, he physically raped me because home right there,” stated Northern California resident Rick Pfisterer, going over the accusations set out in his current suit while standing in front of the Castro Valley church he participated in as a kid. “He did God terrible things.”

Pfisterer stated he still bares the psychological scars from the abuse, which he declares lasted for more than a year. He informed his dad about the abuse, he stated, however was just penalized even more.

” The priest had actually gotten my house phone and spoke to my daddy prior to me getting house and informing him what was going on,” Pfisterer stated. “And I got beat for lying to him. Therefore, I never ever stated another word to anybody.”


NBC Bay Area

An old yearbook picture of Rick Pfisterer

Like the hundreds of other brand-new complainants taking legal action against the church, Pfisterer states it’s taken years to come forward with his story, costs the years in-between dealing with dependency and prompts to hurt himself. His better half, he stated, has actually been his rescuer, assisting him take a stand versus those haunting memories.

” I have actually attempted to O.D. my entire life, till I satisfied my better half,” Pfisterer stated. “I can’t outrun the memory, so I may also withstand them.”

NBC Bay Area’s examination into the clergy abuse claims continues, as hundreds of more suits are anticipated by the end of the year and there are lots of possible result in follow. We’ll continue reporting on this concern.



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